STUNNER! Legendary Pictures Postpones January Start Of ‘Paradise Lost’
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures’ Paradise Lost isn’t the only film being readied on the Warner Bros lot to face a budget crisis. Arthur & Lancelot, the David Dobkin script that Warner Bros paid $2 million to acquire last summer, won’t get made unless the budget drops dramatically. I’m told that even though Warner Bros dated the film for a March 15, 2013 release and cast Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington to play Arthur and The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman to play Lancelot, the back and forth on budget has gotten to the point that the studio has invited Dobkin to set the picture up elsewhere if he can. I’ve heard that what started as a $90 million (other sources said Warners would make it for $110 million) contemporary style re-imagining of the Sword And The Stone tale has a budget the studio fears could reach $130 million. The studio feels that is just too much for a movie with two unproven leads. After the year’s wild box office swings and last weekend’s paltry performance, who can blame Warner Bros for being cautious?
It is obviously a Warner Bros goal to tell the story of Arthur, Lancelot and the Knights of the Roundtable, because the Dobkin spec supplanted two others that the studio had in development. The studio is keen to see through Dobkin’s version of the film (the spec deal allowed Dobkin to take it elsewhere if he and Warner Bros disagreed), but I’ve heard that if Arthur & Lancelot doesn’t figure it out, Ritchie might once again be trying to pull the sword out of the stone. His Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows opens Friday and is expected to shake the box office out of its recent doldrums. Warner Bros recently gave Ritchie and his new producing partner Lionel Wigram The Man From U.N.C.L.E., after halting the version that Steven Soderbergh was working on because the studio didn’t like the budget and the casting after George Clooney dropped out.
This budget crisis news follows last night’s news that Legendary’s Paradise Lost has been halted from starting production in January because the large amount of green screen visual effects in the epic battle of good and evil swelled the $120 million budget by 10%-15%. Legendary, which has Bradley Cooper and Benjamin Walker starring, is now looking at May or later to start production in Australia on the Alex Proyas-directed film, which Warner Bros will distribute.
2011 has been a year of studios moving warily on green lights even at the risk of alienating cornerstone producers, directors and stars. Disney halted the Johnny Depp-Armie Hammer-starrer The Lone Ranger until director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer figured out how to take a budget upwards of $250 million down to $215 million. Universal jettisoning an ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series that Ron Howard was to direct with Javier Bardem starring, with three feature films and two TV series runs planned. More shocking was Universal’s decision to unplug At the Mountains of Madness, the Guillermo del Toro-directed adaptation of the HP Lovecraft tale that had Tom Cruise poised to star, because Universal would not make a $150 million horror film without a guarantee from the director that it would be PG-13 and not R rated.
Other Knights Of The Roundtable projects previously considered by WB was a remake of the 1981 John Boorman pic Excalibur that had Bryan Singer attached; there was a version that Sherlock Holmes helmer Guy Ritchie was working on with Trainspotting scribe John Hodge. There is also a Harry Potter-style take being produced by Donald DeLine that isn’t really impacted by any of this. Warner Bros would not comment on the Arthur & Lancelot situation.
Disney is taking another week of prep time before getting underway on The Lone Ranger. Production will begin on February 13. The Gore Verbinski-directed Johnny Depp-starrer has been locked for a May 31, 2013 release. When the film came … Read More »
BREAKING: Disney has confirmed that the Gore Verbinski-directed Johnny Depp-starrer The Lone Ranger has come back on track, with the studio setting the film for a May 31, 2013 release. As Deadline revealed yesterday, the film will begin production February 6. The film was originally supposed to get underway this fall for a December 21, 2012 release, but all that changed when Disney shocked Hollywood by unplugging the film over fears that its budget could reach $275 million. Deadline revealed that news exclusively on August 12. It was a surprising move, considering that Bruckheimer is a cornerstone producer and Depp has starred in the studio’s highest-grossing films, with both of them teaming with Verbinski on the first three installments of The Pirates Of The Caribbean.
Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Depp rose to the challenge, though, even though it was a painful one. They reworked their compensation deals and figured out ways to save money in the production budget. They brought the budget down to a figure that is around $215 million, I’m told. Taking responsibility to bring the film in for that price was the only way that the studio was going to make the film. Considering that most Westerns don’t travel overseas as well as some other genres (Cowboys & Aliens has proven to be an offshore disappointment), The Lone Ranger is still a big bet by a studio that is backing John Carter, a film that costs more than $250 million, and Oz The Great And Powerful, which hovers at around $200 million. At least now, Disney’s risk on The Lone Ranger has been contained. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: I’m hearing that Disney has set The Lone Ranger to start production February 6, 2012. That re-establishes one of the most intriguing examples of a star-driven film that was unplugged because of high budget and put back together in a way that gives the studio a chance to recoup its costs. Though The Lone Ranger has arguably the world’s most bankable movie star in Johnny Depp, it also is a Western, which (as evidenced by the lackluster performance of Cowboys & Aliens), doesn’t as a genre do strong business overseas. I expect this to be formalized by tomorrow.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, October 11, 4:38 PM: Well, it took a week longer than I thought it would, but Disney has finally reached a meeting of the minds on The Lone Ranger with director Gore Verbinski, Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The studio is expected to formalize a new start date imminently and announce it is moving forward and putting Depp back in the saddle as Tonto, with Armie Hammer as the title character. It looked like the studio was going to announce last week when the picture brightened for the film, but it will be this week’s business instead. I don’t think Disney was able to salvage its December 21 release date because production won’t start in New Mexico until early next year.
The original plan was to begin shooting this fall. That was until, as Deadline revealed on August 12, the studio shockingly pulled the plug on a project it feared could come in at between $250 million-$275 million. The risk of such a figure on a Western became more glaring after Cowboys & Aliens had just turned in a severely disappointing domestic gross, to be followed by an even worse offshore performance, proving the adage that most Westerns don’t travel well. Cowboys & Aliens will be a costly money-loser, 50% shouldered by DreamWorks and the other half split between Universal and Relativity Media. On Lone Ranger, there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes drama as the three principal players made concessions in their deals, and worked on the script to salvage the spectacle that made the movie worth making in the first place while bringing the budget down to a more manageable figure in the $215 million range. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline told you a week ago that things were looking up for The Lone Ranger for the first time since we broke the shocking news on Aug. 12 that Disney had pulled the plug over budget. I’m hearing that the studio is likely to have everything resolved by next week, and can start rehiring crew so that the picture will be ready to begin production in January or February. How that late start impacts the Dec. 21, 2012 release date remains to be seen, but Johnny Depp will get to play Tonto (Disney wouldn’t make the movie without him), and Armie Hammer will be back in as the title character. Ruth Wilson, the scene-stealing killer from Idris Elba’s British cop series Luther, is also expected back as the female lead.
Disney has gotten to this point after a painful overhaul of the movie by producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski to bring to $215 million a budget the studio feared could reach $250 or more. Verbinski’s struggle has been to reach that number while retaining enough of the spectacle that made them say yes in the first place. The cutting process has included the reworking of deals for Depp, Verbinski and Bruckheimer, and trimming the production budget and the long shoot. That would enable Depp, Gore and Bruckheimer to re-team after making the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films together. The Lone Ranger is one of several huge-budget films that Disney’s Rich Ross and Sean Bailey are managing. The others include John Carter, the Andrew Stanton-directed adaptation of John Carter of Mars with Friday Night Lights‘ Taylor Kitsch in the lead role, which has a budget around $250 million; and The Great and Powerful Oz, the Sam Raimi-directed James Franco-starrer, which is hovering around $200 million. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: For the first time since Deadline broke the shocking news that Disney had pulled the plug because of a huge budget on the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, insiders tell me that things … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: This is the kind of Maalox moment that explains why studio moguls get paid the big bucks. Because Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross now has a very public decision to make about whether to go forward with The Lone … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In an exclusive to Deadline’s Pete Hammond during Disney’s D23 Expo, Rich Ross made his first comment on The Lone Ranger since I revealed the film had been halted for budgetary reasons. “I’m hoping to do it. I’m certainly hoping. I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry and Johnny more than me, so we’ll see how it works.” The surprise is that Ross mentioned Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer but not the film’s director Gore Verbinski. Would Disney be happier making The Lone Ranger without him?
The rumblings I’ve heard since my first story on the stoppage are as follows: Verbinski and Bruckheimer have been working hard to tone down or lose some of the budget-busting spectacular scenes in Justin Haythe’s script. At the same time, Bruckheimer as well as reps for Depp and Verbinski have been discussing ways to defer big chunks of their upfront paydays. Salary among all three likely accounts for $30 million or more. And if the trio’s backend deals weren’t at cash break before, they likely will be now if the film moves forward. Because simply adjusting above-the-line salaries isn’t enough to bring down what insiders told Deadline nine days ago was a $75 million budget gap to get to the $200 million Disney wants to spend on the Western. I’ve heard since that the studio will agree to make The Lone Ranger at $215 million. One major question is whether Verbinski can deliver at that number and retain enough spectacle “wow” factor to give The Lone Ranger a shot at a big overseas gross and sequels.
If Ross’s comments indicate that Disney would be open to making The Lone Ranger with another director, that is taking a big risk with Depp. Outside of Tim Burton, no director has made as many movies with Depp as Verbinski, with three Pirates of the Caribbean films and Rango. Would Depp continue in the movie if Verbinski was moved aside or quit? Good question. The Lone Ranger is a giant risk in the first place because Westerns don’t traditionally perform well overseas. In a DVD-collapsed world, a $275 million film is back to grossing three times its budget to earn out, and that can’t be done without a big overseas reward. Without Depp — arguably the biggest star in the world right now with three of the all-time Top 10 worldwide grossing films — there is no Lone Ranger. Read More »
Disney Announces Two New Pixar Films
Who needs Comic-Con when you can do it yourself?
That must be exactly what Disney is thinking as it continues its massive second annual Disney D23/ Expo, the “ultimate fan event” taking place all weekend long at the Anaheim Convention Center right next to Disneyland (the name refers to 1923, the year Walt Disney started his studio). It’s an offshoot of the official Disney Fan Club and includes a ginormous exhibition center with every imaginable opportunity to buy Disneyana, numerous fan events and celebrity-sighting opps, and then there was today’s centerpiece: a near-three-hour preview of movies in the pipeline from Disney, Pixar and Marvel (which announced a partnership with the company in 2009 that is just now gearing up).
Call it “Mickey Con”. It’s all a bit overwhelming, so no wonder it takes three days just to get through it all. The event continues through the end of Sunday.
After his major presentation of the new Disney slate in the gargantuan arena in front of 4200 seemingly rabid fans (and a few more restrained press members), I caught up with Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross in the Green Room for an exclusive interview in which he talked about the possibilities of a fifth Pirate.s of the Caribbean film as well as his first comments on the demise of Pirates team Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer’s about-to-shoot Western The Lone Ranger, which Deadline’s Mike Fleming first reported had been dropped by Disney due to budgetary concerns on the pricey pic. When I asked Ross if there was anything new to report he said, ”Nothing definitive. There is nothing new. I’m hoping to do it, I’m certainly hoping. I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry and Johnny more than me, so we’ll see how it works.” And about the possibility of a fifth Pirates? The situation is obviously clouded with the Lone Ranger situation, but again he used the word “hopeful.” Read More »
UPDATE: Johnny Depp is in Europe right now, but really wanted to make The Lone Ranger. According to one insider, “Let’s see how it all shakes out on Monday. There’s always a chance that it could go. You never know until you know.” The deeper story behind this production stoppage is about how movies are costing too much, studios are giving major pushback, and today’s backdrop of a crazy economy. Everyone involved is still intent on the project and still in discussions to see what can be done. But the studio’s concern is spending over $200M on a Western, even with Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp and a comedic slant. So clearly Disney took drastic action. Now the studio and filmmakers are trying to figure out the next step, either to shop it elsewhere or put it back together at a later date at a lower budget.
EXCLUSIVE: In a stunning development, Disney has shut down production on The Lone Ranger, the Gore Verbinski-directed period Western that was to star Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the title character. Jerry Bruckheimer is the producer and the script is by Justin Haythe. I’m told this all just happened, and Disney pulled the plug because of the budget. I’ve heard the filmmakers were trying to reduce the film’s cost from $250 million (some even say $275 million) down to $232 million. But it wasn’t the $200 million that Disney wanted to spend. And between Depp, Bruckheimer, and Verbinski, the gross outlay on the film is substantial.
When the plug was pulled, the film was still casting up, with Ruth Wilson, the serial killer from the BBC’s Luther series, set for the female lead. And The Lone Ranger was scheduled to be released Dec. 21, 2012, smack up against The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens Dec. 14, and the Brad Pitt-starrer World War Z, which was just slated for Dec. 21. This becomes the second major Western-themed project to bite the dust, after Universal halted a mammoth adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. And is it coincidence that The Lone Ranger halted right after another Western, Cowboys & Aliens, proved a pricey disappointment for DreamWorks and Universal? Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Social Network’s Armie Hammer is in early talks to star opposite Johnny Depp in the title role of The Lone Ranger, the Gore Verbinski-directed film for Disney. I expect he’ll soon be shouting “Hi Yo Silver! Away!” on … Read More »
According to sources, Ryan Gosling is one of several actors being eyed for the title role in Disney’s The Lone Ranger, the Gore Verbinski-directed update of the classic Western franchise that already has locked in Johnny Depp for the role of Tonto. The Oscar-nominated Gosling is starring in 2012′s Logan’s … Read More »
Gore Verbinski In Talks To Reteam With Johnny Depp On ‘Lone Ranger’
EXCLUSIVE: When we last left this project, Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3 director Gore … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Gore Verbinski is saddling up for a re-team with Johnny Depp on The Lone Ranger.
Verbinski, whose last live action film was 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, is getting serious about making his next directing outing The … Read More »